Social Media as a Tool to Disseminate ASD Mental Health Research / Les médias sociaux comme outils pour diffuser la recherche en santé mentale sur les troubles du spectre de l’autisme

Jonathan Weiss, Faculty of Health and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research, York University
Michael Johnny, RIR York

A commitment to social media can help support important messages in research being shared to diverse audiences.

 L’emploi des médias sociaux peut favoriser la diffusion à des publics divers d’importants messages issus de la recherche.

Jonathan Weiss

Jonathan Weiss

Social media is not a new medium for disseminating academic research but it is one that is relatively new and not widely utilized by academic researchers. Dr. Jonathan Weiss of York University and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research has adopted social media as an important component of his collaboration, engagement and dissemination efforts. His rationale is embedded in the title of an early blog entry on his recently created ASD Mental Health blog, “Why Focus a Blog on Mental Health and Autism Spectrum Disorders? How Could We Not“? An understanding that research is only part of the continuum of desired changes to policy and practice around Autism, social media was determined to be an important tool to support engagement with project partners, research dissemination to diverse end users, and an opportunity to access additional information and contacts to continue to support the ongoing research agenda.

This is all aligned with a clear and comprehensive knowledge translation (KT) strategy for the project team. Simply put, the objectives of KT for this project are to enable research to inform decision making along the spectrum of Autism service. Informed by the leading work of Melanie Barwick who had led Scientist Knowledge Translation Training courses, an integrated KT strategy has been employed. This means ongoing engagement with stakeholders. Information will be shared in a timely manner and in relevant formats allowing for easy access to research to encourage specific recommendations to enable research to meet its objectives of helping inform policy and practice.

ASD Mental Health Chair logo

The Chair website and blog have been combined with the work of numerous project partners, to create a web of engagement that meets the needs of all involved. For ResearchImpact, this is an excellent example of how social media can be effectively used as part of a KT strategy. For the project team, it is an important tool to disseminate and access relevant information related to Autism and Mental Health research.

Visit the Chair in Autsim Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research website at,  the ASD Mental Health blog at and the complete list of research summaries at And watch the ResearchImpact twitter feed @researchimpact for the rest of this week, where we will be tweeting about ASD Mental Health ResearchSnapshots.

A New Development in the World of ResearchSnapshots / Un nouveau développement dans le monde des faits saillants de recherche

Jason Guriel, Evidence Exchange Network

ResearchImpact’s ResearchSnapshot database makes research on climate change, homelessness, and other important topics accessible to a wide range of audiences. But the latest additions to the library – created by Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) – bring an enhanced focus on mental health and addictions research, especially as it relates to Ontario.

Les faits saillants du Réseau Impact Recherche rendent accessibles les recherches sur les changements climatiques, les sans-abris, et d’autres sujets importants à une large audience. Mais les derniers ajouts à la bibliothèque – par Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) – apportent une meilleure représentation des recherches sur la santé mentale et sur les dépendances, notamment en ce qui concerne l’Ontario.

You may not have noticed, but ResearchImpact’s collection of Research Snapshots just got a little bit bigger—a new batch of user-friendly summaries has joined the library!

But why should you care? Isn’t there already a wealth of information to browse? Well, there certainly is; ResearchImpact offers a valuable resource that makes research on climate change, homelessness, and other important topics accessible to a wide range of audiences.

But these latest ResearchSnapshots – created by Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) – bring to ResearchImpact’s library an enhanced focus on mental health and addictions research, especially as it relates to Ontario. Indeed, as a knowledge exchange network, one of EENet’s goals is to ensure that evidence informs the mental health and addictions system in the province. These new Snapshots are a key part of that effort.

We hope that you take a moment to browse through the mental health and addiction / substance use sections of ResearchImpact’s library. Discover what young bloggers are saying about mental health. Find out how we can improve social inclusion for people with mental health issues. Learn about the impact that neighbourhood ‘connectedness’ can have on teen drug use.

And we hope that you come back for more! ResearchImpact is adding new Snapshots by EENet on a regular basis. In fact, thanks to our partnership with ResearchImpact, EENet was able to hire a talented writer, Maia Miller, who has been helping the network create a whole new batch of Snapshots on mental health and addictions.

The EENet Management and Resource Centre is located in the Provincial System Support Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. To learn more about EENet – and to discover other products and tools, beyond ResearchSnapshots – visit today!

Jason Guriel is a Communications Associate for Evidence Exchange Network.

Why Knowledge Mobilization? / Pourquoi la mobilisation des connaissances ?

By David Phipps – RIR (York)

Why is knowledge mobilization emerging as an institutional paradigm for community university collaboration? Limited resources and increasing public accountability require that university researchers and their non-academic partners collaborate to accomplish more with less.

Pourquoi la mobilisation des connaissances émerge-t-elle en tant que paradigme institutionnel pour la collaboration université-milieux ? Les ressources limitées et l’imputabilité face à la population exigent que les chercheurs universitaires et leurs collaborateurs non académiques collaborent afin de faire plus avec moins.

Mobilizing Minds is a knowledge mobilization project that is lead by then University of Manitoba and hosted at York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. We are pleased to support the KMb activities of Mobilizing Minds who have been previously featured in Mobilize This! on November 8, 2010, February 24, 2010 and March 6, 2009 among  other entries. Mobilizing Minds recently held a meeting involving researchers, community partners and young adults. The three day long event was in part retrospective assessment of progress part prospective planning and part the necessary renewing of bonds among a group spread over 6 universities, 2 provinces and about 8 community partners. One of the activities was a lecture by Cameron Norman. Cameron is Assistant Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.  Cameron tweets as @cdnorman and we have been following each other on twitter long before we were connected through Mobilizing Minds. Cameron spoke to us about Design Thinking.

Cameron and his colleague Andrea Yip (@andrealyip) gave us first an orientation to design. “Design is the conscious and intuitive effort to impost meaningful order” (Victor Papanek, 1985). Design Thinking therefore “refers to the methods and processes for investigating ill-defined problems, acquiring information, analyzing knowledge, and positing solutions in the design and planning fields. As a style of thinking, it is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context” (thank you Wikipedia).

One of the design thinking tools we learned and practiced was the 5 Whys that help you get close to your subject matter by asking “why” five times. I did this with Maria Luisa Contursi of Mind Your Mind (@mindyourmind_ca), the principle community partner for Mobilizing Minds. Both of us did this for the same project and came up with different reasons for why we were doing the project. There is no right or wrong answer. This exercise helps you get close to your subject.

I tried this imagining the “why” of knowledge mobilization from the perspective of different KMb stakeholders.

University researcher: Why do I engage in KMb?

  • Because I want partners for my research
  • Because I want other people to use my research
  • Because I want my research to make a difference
  • Because research and knowledge should not be held inside the academy
  • Because society expects a return on investment in my research

Graduate student: Why do I engage in KMb?

  • Because I want partners for my research
  • Because I am considering options to an academic career
  • Because I don’t think there will be faculty jobs for me
  • Because there are pressures on academic budgets
  • Because everyone needs to do more with less

Community/Government partner: Why do I engage in KMb?

  • Because I need research and evidence to help me make decisions
  • Because I need to have greater confidence that I am making the right decisions
  • Because I need to demonstrate my programs are producing results
  • Because my stakeholders are demanding greater accountability
  • Because resources are increasingly limited

Interesting. If I imagine their perspectives correctly then we put our efforts into KMb because society expects a return on tax dollars, because we need to do more with less and resources are limited. All three are related to operating in a climate of limited resources. In such a climate we turn to collaboration to take advantage of complementarity and create opportunities together that we would not have been able to accomplish working in isolation. This is a very different motivation than that other university based knowledge transfer: technology transfer and commercialization which started in the 1980s with the promise of financial return to the university and the economy.

KMb is the process of identifying, creating and sustaining collaborations between university researchers and their non-academic partners.  KMb is a process that results in social innovations arising from those collaborations. In a climate of austerity we turn to collaboration to do more with less and create a return on investment in research and health/human services.

Why knowledge mobilization? That’s why.

Mental Health for York and York / La santé mentale à York et York

By David Phipps, RIR-York

On Friday October 7, 2011, York University’s Faculty of Health and Faculty of Education invited researchers and educators to meet with representatives of York Region’s community mental health agencies. It was intended to be a day of priority setting for York U and York Region.  It was a day of knowledge mobilization and ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR)-York was there.

Le 7 octobre 2011, la Faculté de la Santé ainsi que la Faculté d’Éducation de l’Université York ont invité chercheurs et éducateurs à rencontrer les représentants des agences de santé mentale de la région de York. La rencontre se voulait une occasion d’établir les priorités pour l’Université de York et la région de York (York x York = York2). C’était une journée de mobilisation des connaissances et RéseauImpactRecherche-York y était.

There were about 40 of us in the room at the Markham Convergence Centre, slightly more community than university folks.  The university members were almost all faculty with a couple of project staff and knowledge brokers thrown in.  The community members came from across the mental health support spectrum and from across York Region. The goal was to start a conversation about mental health in people 0-25 years old. We started from the position that York University is part of York Region.  Not only do many York U staff, faculty and students live in York Region but many high school students with mental health experiences will move from the school system to York University creating an opportunity to provide a continuum of mental health supports and services.

Pat Bradshaw (Schulich School of Business) was retained to guide the group from introductions to decisions. She started us out in assigned roundtable discussions of 4-8 people per table discussing trends, gaps and opportunities for mental health services in York Region. She then used a nominal group technique to move quickly through group report back allowing each group to build on comments previously provided and avoid duplication. The group then used a dotmocracy technique to prioritize opportunities. The fun continued with two “open spaces” (=unconference) where individuals identified issues they felt relevant to the prioritized opportunities and agreed to host and report back on the outcomes of their sessions.

While the notes are still in development what happened was classic knowledge exchange, a component of knowledge mobilization.  Groups of mental health stakeholders came together to share information, develop trust and create relationships that may lead to campus-community collaborations around research, teaching and the student experience.

The facilitated approach was also reminiscent of a Harvard Business Review blog titled, “Hold Conversations, Not Meetings” posted on February 15, 2011.  This blog made the following recommendations to engage in information exchange, not just passive information transfer that more frequently occurs in meetings. Continue reading

Meet a Mobilizer – Monica Nunes / Faites la connaissance d’un agent de mobilisation – Monica Nunnes

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche would like to extend a big KMb welcome to one of our newest knowledge brokers – Monica Nunes. Monica is working out of York University’s knowledge mobilization unit and is supporting researchers, young adults and community partners in Ontario and Manitoba.

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche aimerait souhaiter la plus cordiale des bienvenues à une nouvelle venue parmi les courtiers de connaissances, Monica Nunnes. Monica travaille à partir de l’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de l’Université York et offre un soutien aux chercheurs, aux jeunes adultes ainsi qu’aux partenaires communautaires de l’Ontario et du Manitoba.

Hello! My name is Monica Nunes and I am the current project coordinator for Mobilizing Minds: Pathways to Young Adult Mental Health, a young adult mental health research project led by young adults, community organizations, researchers, and health professionals. Together we are working to develop resources to assist young adults, and those who support them, in making informed decisions about stress, anxiety and depression. The process of knowledge mobilization – getting the right information to the right people (in our case young adults) in the right format and at the right time to inform decisions – directs our work. And, by having young adults inform and guide all stages of our project, youth engagement anchors how we get that work done.

I am happy to be part of the Mobilizing Minds team, filling in for Jenn McPhee who is busy being a mom (again!). Although I am a relatively new member to this project, I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Mobilizing Minds team. Anyone who has interacted with this team has met a group of dedicated, passionate and hardworking people who have accomplished much in the few years of the project’s existence.

However, one aspect of my involvement with Mobilizing Minds that is quite inspiring for me is how I am regularly being connected to a broader societal movement that is emerging across sectors in Canada. Specifically, the movement that I am referring to encompasses the burgeoning involvement of individuals and communities in activities that understand and respond to mental health in new, progressive and ultimately more just ways.

Indeed, recent actions by diverse groups ranging from governments to high school students to corporations are driving positive social change in the area of mental health. By initiating awareness campaigns, drafting policy frameworks, developing community programs, and forming unique partnerships many are creating opportunities to promote better mental health.  And, as Mobilizing Minds conducts research to produce tools to help young adults make decisions around their mental health, I am also able to count myself a participant of this positive movement.

Certainly, there is still work to be done in the areas of mental health & addictions. Many young adults still face barriers to support stemming from stigma and health system gaps. However, the momentum that individuals and communities are spurring to promote this new ‘mental health movement’ holds robust promise for improvements. These possibilities inspire me.

And speaking of inspiration, outside of work, other things that inspire me include: spending time with my Vóvó and Vôvô (Portuguese for Grandma and Grandpa), biking through Toronto, and ice cream.

Using Your WITS: KMb in Action at UVic / Le programme « WITS » : la Mobilisation des connaissances (MdC) en action à l’Université de Victoria

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently announced a $2.6 million grant supporting children’s mental health through a program designed by University of Victoria psychologist Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater, which teaches children conflict resolution strategies.

L’Agence de la santé publique du Canada a récemment annoncé une subvention de 2,6 millions de dollars pour la santé mentale des enfants par le biais d’un programme (WITS) développé par une psychologue de l’Université de Victoria : Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater. Elle enseigne aux enfants les stratégies de résolution de conflits.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has announced a $2.6 million grant supporting children’s mental health through research about and improved online access to the WITS program. WITS teaches children four simple conflict resolution strategies—Walk away – Ignore – Talk it out – Seek help—and was developed by UVic psychologist Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater.

The four-year grant will support online resources, lesson plans, training modules and resource guides for teachers across Canada. The funds will also go to further research in determining the effectiveness of the prevention program. Since 1998, the WITS programs have taught schools, families and communities four simple strategies that children can use to respond to peer victimization.

“We are very pleased to receive this funding,” says Leadbeater. “We want to ensure that schools and communities across Canada can access the WITS program to help prevent peer victimization, which also improves children’s mental health.”

The funding, announced by Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq, is part of a funding package for innovative, community-based projects to improve the mental health of Canadian children and families, with a focus on vulnerable populations.

For more information on WITS, please visit:

Mobilizing Minds Community Partnership Forum

What happens when community groups learn about young adult engagement and about research and knowledge mobilization? Mobilizing Minds: pathways to young adult mental health engaged community partners to bring community agencies and advocates into the Mobilizing Minds project and inform them about engaging youth in their own organizations. Young adults need a voice in mental health agencies. Community partners need a voice in research.

Mobilizing Minds is a $1.5M CIHR/MHCC funded knowledge mobilization grant that pairs young adults with adult researchers and seeks to develop knowledge tools and products that are derived from academic research but presented in the right format, at the right time, to the right people to inform decisions about mental health. Tara Syed (young adult leader) and Jenn McPhee (project coordinator) along with their community partner Mind Your Mind hosted 21 people from 16 community agencies in a conversation about youth engagement and getting involved in KMb for mental health. The half day event was held at York University on October 27, 2010.

You can see a mash up of all the Mobilizing Minds Community partner logos and photos from the event are posted here.

Before you do anything check out the overview video produced by a few of Mobilizing Minds young adult leaders…and make sure you stick around to see Mark Leonhart’s bloopers (after his expert use of the word “mobilize”). The video provides a great overview of the project from the perspective of young adults.

After Jenn and Tara described the project and the community members got a brief overview of KMb by David Phipps. The group also heard a keynote by David Kelly, Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs and Member of the Minister’s Advisory Group for Mental Health and Addictions. The group then got down to work. They discussed how the goals of the project intersect with a number of other projects and initiatives underway.

The group got a lot of information and were charged with staying in touch on Mobilizing Minds O3 site about two things:

  1. how each organization might be able to be involved as channels for dissemination of the knowledge products to be developed by Mobilizing Minds and
  2. how each organization can include young adults in their programming and planning.

Tara Syed (Young Adult Leader, Mobilizing Minds) echoed these goals. “I am glad we’re getting our project out there and that we’re one step closer to disseminating our resources in the right way to the right people. I am excited to meet the young adults who will join our team from the community partners and engaging more youth!”

York University’s KMb Unit and ResearchImpact were pleased to be there at the beginning. Mobilizing Minds can trace it’s history back to the very first KM in AM in November 2006 when Henny Westra (York University, Department of Psychology) met Mary Lynne Porto (Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region). It was through those discussions that the desire to find a pathway to young adults mental health was formed. We have blogged about Mobilizing Minds previously on February 5 and 24, 2010 and June 8, 2009 and we are pleased to see Mobilizing Minds grow into a project that is now engaging community organizations to get information to young adults.

Madalyn Marcus (PhD student, Clinical Psychology, York University) said, “This community partnership forum is directly related to my research. It is vital in moving forward with dissemination of these findings to get feedback from those in attendance today”.

Commmunity partners have tons of knowledge and experience; their value to university research and KMb projects is huge. Christine Garinger (Mind Your Mind) summed up this contribution and the energy of the group. “What wisdom we bring! What energy we bring! We don’t want to duplicate or waste time. We want to move forward in action. Awesome!

Congratualtions to Jenn, Tara and Mind Your Mind for a great partnership event.

Mobilizing Minds meets Mind your Mind

Apart from each having a cat, Jenn McPhee (Program Coordinator, Mobilizing Minds) and I have nothing in common. Discovering all the things two people have in common in 60 seconds was the first exercise at the annual Face to Face meeting of Mobilizing Minds, the $1.5M CIHR funded knowledge translation grant exploring pathways to young adult mental health.

You previously met Jenn and read about Mobilizing Minds on this blog. This past weekend (February 20-21, 2010) was the second time the adult researchers and young adult leaders had a chance to get together face to face. The project’s primary goals are to:

  1. Find what information young adults, their friends and family want about help for common mental health problems
  2. Find the information they have requested – very challenging (knowledge synthesis)
  3. Put the answers to their questions into clear language (core information)
  4. Format information in a variety of formats to meet the needs of different young adults and different media
  5. Evaluate the core information and the formatted information
  6. Disseminate the information developed on a wide scale

However, another goal that permeates all activities is to explore the dynamics of young adult/adult partnerships. Young adults are involved in all activities of the project including in leadership positions throughout the project. That’s where Mind your Mind (MYM) comes in. MYM is a London, ON community based organization providing services (many of them interactive web based) for young adults exploring mental health support services. MYM recently joined the MM team as the young adult coordinators but they also bring with them tools and expertise to facilitate knowledge mobilization of mental health research to a young adult audience.

At the end of the weekend the group had worked through some of the relationship challenges experienced by a research project spread across 5 universities and 3 provinces. We rediscovered our commitment to the project and made plans for year 2. And we tweeted (@mobilizingminds). Frequently. While the tweets aren’t minutes of the meeting you can get an idea of what happened throughout the 2 days. Because MM is a KM project and KM is inherently change focused the participants were asked to write about how their involvement with MM has changed them over the last year – in 140 characters or less. Here are their tweets:

I have become inspired and feel more informed!

I have had to reorganize Mondays. I have enjoyed discourse with interesting colleagues. I know some more about communicating.

More aware of partnership complexity and how much we don’t know about mental health.

I am more busy and feel the work is meaningful.

I have discovered the importance of research and have gained a sincere interest in young adult mental health.

The project has increased my awareness of the tremendous importance of KE. Managing tasks in health can translate to KE. Amazing perspective.

I have learned more about myself as a person, my strengths and weaknesses. I have a better idea of areas I can improve and ways I can get there.

Feel more involved in something revolutionary and exciting.

I have developed a commitment to working in a knowledge translation framework.

I became part of an experienced-based team who are visionaries in involving communities of young adults in mental health.

The take away message from the meeting: no amount of Go To meetings, teleconferences, twitter or skype can replace face to face contact. In a Web 2.0 world, technology can only enhance, it can’t replace, the human touch.

Youth and Mental Health: Addressing Stigma and Discrimination through Community-Informed Curriculum

In the summer of 2009, as part of the initial grant for KM pilot projects at York University and University of Victoria, the two institutions developed a competitive, adjudicated process for Faculty Incentive Grants for teams of researchers and their partners to address research issues with relevant public policy and/or professional practice implications. Here is a summary of one of these projects:

Drs. Megan Davies (York) and Anne Marshall (UVic) were Principal Investigators on a project to provide tools and processes to help young people address the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health concerns and treatment. Building a new partnership with the Greater Victoria School District #61, the research team engaged in consultations to help conceptualize the project deliverables and support curriculum lesson plan development.

The project team also have chosen to integrate their deliverables into a new web site ( to support broader access to the curriculum modules that were developed.

The outcomes of this project are:
• Four cross curricular teaching units with activities and resources aimed at Grades 7 to 12
• Development of
• New and strengthened relationships between the research team and amongst educators and mental health treatment and consumer groups

In identifying lessons learned, there were the clear challenges of working across geography and disciplines and with several partners… However, there was one additional outcome the project team articulated,

“An unanticipated, but positive outcome was the inclusion of the original artwork created by a sixteen year-old secondary school student. William Willis’ drawings do much to make this site visually appealing, and seem entirely appropriate for a youth-centred project such as this”.

The project team continues its development, as they are engaged in dissemination of research finding, pursuing additional funding to further resource development and expand the program internationally. They are also pursuing the integration of these materials into other provincial curricula and international web sites.

Meet a Mobilizer- Jennifer McPhee

Jennifer and QuinnMy name is Jennifer McPhee. I am the project coordinator of a national KT project that focuses on young adult mental health (Mobilizing Minds: Pathways to Young Adult Mental Health; The project is linked to the KM Unit at York University and includes a large team of researchers, health professionals, young adults and community organizations. We are working together to find out what information young adults want about mental health, where they would be most likely to look for it, how they would like to receive it, whom they might contact for information, when it’s best to receive this information, and what kind of barriers might prevent them from getting the information they need. The final product will be evidence-based, youth friendly mental health resources and decision- making aids that will assist young adults in making informed choices about their mental health and treatment options. Most importantly, this project adheres to a youth engagement framework – young adults (mental health consumers and non-consumers) guide and inform all phases of the project.

I am thrilled to be part of such a pivotal project. What interests me most about this project is that it adheres to both a knowledge mobilization (KM) framework and a youth engagement framework. The project deviates from the traditional top down ‘push’ of information and focuses on the bi-directional exchange of information and the co-production of information and resources. We have a young adult team that informs and guides all phases of the project. Traditionally in Canada, youth have not been included in the development of youth mental health and addictions services, programs, policies and resources. Their voices are not heard and consequently their needs are not being met. I am cognizant about this issue since my background is in youth mental health and addictions (Hon.B.A, Psychology; MSc Mental Health Counselling). Before joining the Mobilizing Minds’ project, I worked for several years as a youth (and family) mental health and addictions counsellor. I was then seconded to coordinate multiple youth mental health and addictions research projects at Brock University. I now coordinate York University’s KT mental health project which Brock University is partnered on. For the past nine years I have really enjoyed this line of work because it allows me to collectively use my clinical background, research skills and project management skills. Most importantly, this experience has taught me the significance of KM and youth engagement. It has shifted my way of thinking. For those of you who provide youth services, I ask you to please consider if youth are actively involved in your program and service planning? Engaging youth helps to ensure that your services meet their needs.

Outside of work, I am a mother of an incredible 4 ½ year old boy (Quinn) and the wife of a wonderful husband (14 years together) and father. My family is my main priority in life. A dear friend once said to me, “you will never look back at your life and think – I should have worked more – but you might look back at your life and think – I should have spent more time with my children.” I remember these words of wisdom often and try to enjoy every precious moment with Quinn as he grows-up.

Jennifer McPhee and Family